August 10, 2007

The Spokesman

Stories of what can happen when you go from being a private person to a public face.
Anthony Pico from Act Two with San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom.
Attention listeners. In the Internet version of Act One of this show, we have left one curse word un-bleeped at a critical moment.


David Iserson tried to lay low in junior high, staying out of sight to keep from getting teased and bullied. But then he starred in a local TV commercial for his father's furniture store, and all of a sudden everyone knew about him...in a bad way. Classmates would quote his lines back to him and snicker. Random people would see him on the street and start laughing. (9 minutes)

Act One

What Part Of "Bomb" Don't You Understand?

Rachel North was on a train that got blown up during the London subway bombings. After writing a very popular blog about her experience and her recovery afterward, Rachel became a spokeswoman for a survivors' group. Then conspiracy theorists—who believed that there were no bombings and that the whole thing was a cover-up by the British government—started attacking her online, saying she was a spy...or a plant by the police...or, worse, that she didn't exist at all. Jon Ronson tells her story.

Jon writes books, hosts radio shows, and produces BBC documentaries—all of which you can check out on his website. A version of this story appeared on his BBC Radio Four series Jon Ronson On.... (21 minutes)

Rachel North has written a book about her experience, called Out of the Tunnel.

Act Two

Mr. Successful.

Anthony Pico was a foster kid for most of his life. His mother was a crack addict who abandoned him, and he bounced around from house to house, relative to relative. But unlike a lot of foster kids, he had an amazing ability to talk about his life eloquently. He started getting invited to child welfare conferences, presenting to social workers and politicians and bureaucrats about problems with the foster care system. He got so good at it that he turned into a professional foster kid. Reporter Doug McGray tells Anthony's story. (20 minutes)

Doug McGray is a fellow at the New America Foundation.

Act Three

Impeachment Day

Joe Lockhart was press secretary for President Bill Clinton. He recently told stories from his time on the job—live onstage at a performance space in New York City called The Moth, where regular people share stories about their lives—in front of a boisterous crowd. It turns out that Presidential press secretaries CAN have personality. (6 minutes)

Thanks to The Moth for the recording.